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Wild Cities, Suburb Zoos, and Rural Atrocities

In recent years there have been striking increases in the frequency and severity of conflicts between many species of wildlife and humans throughout all of the United States. The nature of such ranges from property damage to human injuries and an alarming number of fatalities. The time is long overdue for those federal and state agencies legally delegated the responsibility for the management of wildlife to conduct the necessary, scientifically sound analyses of problems and then adopt effective corrective measures. Far too long these agencies have turned their backs on the most critical issues, choosing to devote their time to programs which the wildlife profession has foisted on the general public by appealing to their emotions.

Major changes in the program direction and resulting public attitudes appeared to surface about the time of the birth of Earth Day in 1970. It should be noted that some of the founders of this event were considered subversive and thus were monitored by the FBI. Shortly thereafter funds became available for non-game wildlife species programs. Major changes occurred in the makeup and emphasis of agencies previously devoted to species that were subjected to hunting, fishing, or trapping. There was no question that non-game had been neglected, but what has evolved can justifiably be categorized as monstrosities. Two such monsters are the Endangered Species Act and wetlands legislation, coupled with resulting programs.

Along with all this there was a very noticeable increase in groups that took advantage of the opportunity to become self-appointed saviors of the Planet Earth. The most radical of these was Earth First, whose stated goal was the rewilding of 50 percent of the United States. Many other groups, some quite noble and prestigious, including the Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense Council, Wilderness Society, and National Audubon Society, got on the bandwagon and evolved into what is now known as the Environmental Movement. All are well-heeled, practice bad science, and play on the emotions of a believing public. There is no question that all their efforts are very well orchestrated and extremely effective. Unfortunately, the malaise is contagious and has spread throughout the once noble wildlife profession, including their Wildlife Society. For example, most of the states bought into the Nature Conservancy's Natural Heritage Program in the 1990's. It was supposed to be a two-year contract, but, lo and behold, some Conservancy people are still in the employ of state agencies. Undoubtedly a well planned invasion.

There appears to be strange bedfellow relationships with many of the above organizations and groups dedicated to anti-hunting and animal rights. These interests are dedicated to the elimination of hunting and can have a disastrous effect on the ability to control species such as the white-tailed deer. Well-regulated firearm hunting is essential for keeping numbers in balance with range carrying capacity and, even more importantly, keeping them wild. In respect to animal rights, who bestowed these rights on wildlife species and do they truly deserve them? The assumption of responsibilities should be a prerequisite. Are wild animals responsible? Viewed from a distance this might be the case. The wild world may seem to be a model of harmony and tranquility. On a closer examination it is very apparent that the jungles are inhabited by very irresponsible beings. Other than a certain degree of maternal instinct, there is little concern for the well being of others and their personal belongings, murder is a fact of life, thievery is rampart, while assault and battery is commonplace. Mother Nature can be extremely cruel.

Speaking of rights, how about property rights? The majority of the land in the United States is privately owned by human beings. The people of our country should thank the landowners for providing habitat to support such a wealth of wild creatures and, more often than not, permitting people to enter on their properties to appreciate these inhabitants. On the other hand, wildlife does not have to own land, pay taxes, comply with all sorts of regulations, and legally they do not have the right to vote. In addition, big brother should make sure that landowners are not harassed and abused. And all parties must accept the fact that the Environmental Movement's concern is somewhere way out in the wings.

Earlier it was mentioned that state and federal agencies must direct their attention to true problems and needs and adopt appropriate programs. Legal mandates must be well spelled out. The State of New York has been fortunate in this respect. The law vests in its Environmental Conservation Department the efficient management of fish and wildlife resources of the State. It is directed to develop and carry out programs and procedures which will promote natural propagation and maintenance of desirable species in ecological balance. It will further be the policy of the State to foster, promote, create and maintain conditions under which man and nature can thrive in harmony. Regard is directed to the compatibility of producing and harvesting wildlife with other necessary and desirable land uses. The mandate is very clear and if it were adhered to it would be a simple matter to determine program direction. Unfortunately, there are those who do not bother to read the law or choose to ignore it.

Such was the case with the fate of New York's deer management program, which traditionally had been considered one of the finest in the nation, back in 1990. Refinements were continually made to insure that all legal mandates were met. The individual who had been Big Game Unit Leader for twelve years was removed from his position with little in the way of explanation. Obviously there was a desire to throw discipline out the window. It does appear that associates of the Environmental Movement, whose main goal is power and control over people's lives, with concern over the environment somewhere out in the wings, had something to do with it. A small group of concerned individuals planned to bring suit against the Department for law violations, but this never came to pass.

Needless to say, the white-tailed deer is one of the major culprits in respect to conflicts between wildlife and humans — damage to agricultural crops, damage to forest regeneration and natural vegetation, and vehicle accidents, with significant numbers of human fatalities. The white-tail plays a major role in the creation of wild cities, suburb zoos, and rural atrocities. To provide the reader with a better idea of the nature of conflicts between wildlife and man a selection of incidents, from the last 40 or so years to the present will be offered. This will be a small sample of thousands and thousands of atrocities that resulted from the mismanagement of our precious wildlife resources.

 

1968 — One of the first atrocities recalled was attempts to increase Canada geese numbers in the Northeast. Semi-tame game farm birds were released on numerous wetlands. The game farm geese multiplied rapidly. It is not known how many wild ones were attracted. Populations multiplied rapidly creating all sorts of nuisance problems — disease concern, goose manure, and competition with other wetland species.
 
Starting about 20 years ago game farm turkeys with questionable wildness released in Northeast. Turkeys were increasing their range on their own due to return of forests. What was the hurry?
 
For many years white-tailed deer have been artificially fed during the winter in the Adirondacks of New York and elsewhere. Problems with taming and concentrating of animals. Results similar to those of ill-founded human welfare programs. Affects annual range.
 
Harriman Park — southeastern New York. Hunting had not been permitted for 70 years. All palatable browse eliminated. Deer in extremely poor physical condition. Approval given by Commission for three experimental hunts. After two very successful seasons with no conflicts, Commission head decided to halt. Problems persist.
 
National Parks, such as Gettysburg, Saratoga Battlefield, Yellowstone, others. No hunting permitted. Destruction of food supplies by ungulates. Poor physical condition, malnutrition losses. Gettysburg has allowed controlled hunting at times.
 
Westchester County, New York — for years no hunting, except with long bows. 1990's efforts to get hunting to reduce problems — natural vegetation, people's gardens and landscape plants. Support gained but New York Department backed out. Claim that human densities too high for gun hunting. But study had been done of 160 towns in New York, with human populations densities as high or higher than Westchester, that had deer harvests near five per square mile. Hunting is a very safe sport.
 
New York City — 1990's. Peregrine falcons restored. Roost and nest on tall buildings. What next?
 
England — 2005. English Parliament outlawed fox hunting. Fox have become horrible pests, even in London. Fear of ramifications in U.S.
 
New Jersey — 2006. Continued problems getting bear hunting seasons. Bear travel between houses in developments with biggest problems in northwest corner. Across the border and into the Catskills sensible hunting seasons, far less problems.
 
2006 — Continued efforts by various environmental groups to get trapping banned. Especially important in the case of beaver — tree cutting and flooding.
 
2006 — Coyote invades Central Park, New York City. Concern over them getting too used to people. The unfortunate soul died in the process of being rescued.
 
2006 — Downtown Orlando. Dumpster-diving raccoons, squirrels in condos, grub-munching armadillos in backyards. Fence around 500-acre theme park not to keep zoo animals in, but wild ones out.
 
2006 — Grangeville, Montana. A man training eight dogs along a road two miles from his home. Attacked by three wolves which kill a number of the dogs.
 
2006 — A more humorous one — West Milford, New Jersey. Cat treed a bear. Bear came down, cat chased it into another tree. Owner took cat inside. Bear came down. About the same time a bear showed up at the Post Office Building in the middle of Trenton, New Jersey.
 
2006 — One child killed by a bear in the National Forest country of northwestern Pennsylvania.
 
2006 — Boulder, Colorado. One person killed by a mountain lion on the outskirts of the city, not too far from where one was killed by a lion in 1992.
 
2006 — A 74,000-acre sheep grazing allotment in the Gallatin National Forest has been permanently closed to ranchers and they must move their sheep elsewhere. This is a result of the massive killing by wolves and bears.
 

Hopefully these accounts will have the desired effect.

Nate Dickinson
July 17, 2006

 

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